USC Aiken students talk ride sharing safety after fellow student’s death in unofficial Uber


Students at USC Aiken spent the past few days reflecting on losing a fellow student while also ramping up their own safety measures while using ride sharing services.

While Columbia and Aiken are an hour apart, the students at USC Aiken still mourn the loss of Samantha Josephson.  Now, they are also becoming more aware of safety measures before jumping inside of a car they have never seen before to share a ride. 

“I was actually in Columbia this past weekend,” said USC Aiken Junior Mason Spires.  “I was in Five Points Friday night, the night after, and I Ubered that night actually with a group of my friends.”

Spires told us he just missed the ride share gone wrong while out with his college friends.  And even though 21-year-old Samantha Josephson entered a car that was not an official Uber, riders such as Spires are already taking extra steps to stay alive. 

“Especially if I’m with a group of girls, we always make sure we spread out the group of guys that we have.  So, let’s say we’re taking three Ubers with 12 people,” he explained.  “We usually put at least one to two guys in the car with the group of girls.”

Ride sharing apps such as Uber are commonplace in the world of drinking and not wanting to drive or saving cash at the gas pump.  But students such as Morgan Lambert know all too well how quickly riding with a stranger can go wrong.

“I almost had an incident. There was a guy.  I got in the car and he was asking me so many questions while I’m trying to get somewhere and I was like this is not too comfortable for me,” Lambert said of a previous Uber ride. 

But now, she knows how to Uber safely. 

“People may just pull up at the same time as Uber, but I don’t feel comfortable just jumping in a car because Uber says a particular car is coming,” she said.  “So, I always call the Uber driver to make sure is this you in this car at this particular time?”

As your Uber or other ride sharing drive arrives there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting inside the right vehicle.  First, make sure you are checking the make and model of that car.  Next, check the license plates to make sure it also matches up with what is on your ride sharing app.  Then walk to the front of the vehicle and have a conversation.  Ask the driver his or her name and then you can get inside the vehicle.  Uber shares additional tips on checking your ride here

USC Aiken Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Services Ahmed Samaha said, “We’re also telling students to not take a vehicle by themselves.”

“I like to look at the picture of my driver that Uber offers and I like to look at the car description,” said USC Aiken Junior Amethyst Marroquio.  “I’m not the best with cars, but at least it gives me a general idea of what I’m looking for.”

Trey Williams, USC Aiken Sophomore added, “Always have that buddy system.  Tell somebody where you’re going and hey, I made it here safe.”

Spires pointed out that since the incident in Columbia was not an official Uber, people must understand they need to be watchful at all times. 

“More often than not it’s just bad people in the world and you have to look out for your friends,” he exclaimed.

One more safety tip:  Uber has the option to share each trip with someone called a Trusted Contact.  That way, after enjoying a night out downtown, that person can ride along with you on their mobile device.

Nearly 5 million people have an opportunity to take advantage of a ride share app. 4.1 million people have downloaded the Lyft app from the Apple store while 855,000 people have done the same thing with Uber. 

Here are additional general ride sharing tips from Uber

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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